Boy Holding Screaming Baby by Norman Rockwell
July 9, 1921 Issue of The Saturday Evening Post
Boy Holding Screaming Baby, this Norman Rockwell painting, appeared on the cover of The Saturday Evening Post published July 9, 1921.
The alternate title for this painting is Big Brother's Dilemma, Watch the Birdie and The Portrait.
This painting was Rockwell's fortieth overall picture out of 322 total featured on the cover of The Post. Rockwell's career with the Post spanned 47 years, from his first cover illustration, Boy With Baby Carriage in 1916 to his last, Portrait of John F. Kennedy, in 1963.
It is also the fourth Rockwell cover in 1921. The Post featured a Rockwell illustration on its cover seven times in 1921.
The original oil on canvas painting, 24 x 20 inches or 61 x 51 cm, was part of the collection of The National Museum of American Illustration. According to the FBI website, the original was stolen on November 15, 1999 from a gallery in Toronto, Canada.
This painting has reproduced in two Rockwell commentary books, as illustration 142 of Norman Rockwell: Artist and Illustrator by Thomas Buechner and on page 86 of Norman Rockwell, A Definitive Catalogue by Laurie Norton Moffatt.
Original copies of this magazine cover in pristine condition have been sold for well over one hundred dollars on eBay. And it only cost a nickel when it was new.
Boy Holding Screaming Baby
In this painting, Norman Rockwell shows how portrait photographs were taken in the 1920s.
Family photographs, such as the one these two children are posing for, help parents remember exactly how the children looked like when they were younger. Old photographs also allow these children's children to laugh and snicker at how funny Daddy looked as a child.
Here we see a boy who is taking his photograph responsibilities seriously. His facial expression seems to say "I will get through this."
The boy is wearing his best suit, his best white shirt with his best collar and bow tie. He has 3 pins on his lapel. He has even worn his best shoes, though they will likely not appear in the photograph.
The background for the photograph is on the wall behind him. It appears to be a lighthouse on a rocky coast.
His head is held rigidly in place at the right angle by a clamp mounted behind the chair. The photographer is not taking any chance of having the boy ruin the portrait.
If only the photographer had something like that clamp for the little girl!
Boy Holding Screaming Baby was only one of 322 Norman Rockwell Saturday Evening Post covers; Here is the list of Norman Rockwell Saturday Evening Post cover illustrations.
Here is the complete list of all Norman Rockwell magazine covers.
She is squalling, screaming and squirming. She doesn't want to remain still. She apparently also wants her mother, evidenced her reaching out with her right hand.
Big brother's hand is clenched on her dress, trying to keep her still. It is not working.
The boy is not happy with his situation. Yet he is not allowed to move, hence the alternate title of Big Brother's Dilemma.
(Image Only) Copyright © 1921 Saturday Evening Post & Curtis Publishing Company
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Do you have a personal story about this painting? Do you know the model personally? Do you have a different take on the commentary?
Norman Rockwell Quotes:
I'll never have enough time to paint all the pictures I'd like to.
No man with a conscience can just bat out illustrations. He's got to put all his talent and feeling into them!
Some people have been kind enough to call me a fine artist. I've always called myself an illustrator. I'm not sure what the difference is. All I know is that whatever type of work I do, I try to give it my very best. Art has been my life.
Right from the beginning, I always strived to capture everything I saw as completely as possible.
The secret to so many artists living so long is that every painting is a new adventure. So, you see, they're always looking ahead to something new and exciting. The secret is not to look back.
I can take a lot of pats on the back. I love it when I get admiring letters from people. And, of course, I'd love it if the critics would notice me, too.
You must first spend some time getting your model to relax. Then you'll get a natural expression.
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